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J.E. McGee

J.E. McGee

Federal (USV)


James Edward McGee

(1830 - 1880)

Home State: New York

Education: St Peter's College (Wexford)

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 69th New York Infantry

Before Antietam

He was a newspaper editor at The Nation, Dublin, and member of the Young Ireland movement. When that movement's rebellion failed in 1848, he emigrated to America and practive law in New York. By then age 29, he enrolled at New York City to serve three years, and mustered in as Captain, Company F, 69th New York Infantry on 12 October 1861.

On the Campaign

In the attack on the Sunken Road at Antietam on 17 September 1862, the green Regimental colors had fallen again, after the 8th color bearer was shot ...

... the Irish green lay trailing in the dust: Meagher cried out "Boys, raise the colors, and follow me !" Captain James McGee, of the Sixty-ninth, rushed forward, and crying, "I'll follow you" - seized the flag. As he raised it, a bullet cut the standard in two in his hand; and, as he again stooped down, another bullet tore through his cap. Still, he jumped up, waving the flag, shook it at the rebels, and cheered on the troops, almost miraculously escaping.

McClellan viewed the battle from a hill, and anxiously watched the charge of the Irish Brigade. Seeing the colors fall so often, and the line in temporary confusion, an aid cried out "The day is lost, general - the Irish fly!"

McClellan looked on for a moment, and smilingly replied "No, no! their flags are up - they are charging" ...

The rest of the War

He was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment 13 April 1864, to rank from 9 March. He was wounded at Petersburg, VA on 16 June 1864, and commanded the regiment, and on occasion the Brigade there later in the year. He mustered out near Petersburg on 11 October 1864.

After the War

He was the author of at least five books between 1873 and his death: Sketches of Irish Soldiers in Every Land, The Men of '48, Lives of Irishmen's Sons and their Descendants, The Glories of Ireland, and The Priests and Poets of Ireland.

References & notes

Service information from the State of New York.1 Details and the quote above from Conyngham.2 His gravesite is on Findagrave. His picture from a CDV photograph sold by Heritage Auctions in 2016. Brother of Thomas D'Arcy McGee (1825-1868).


1830; near Cushendall, County Antrim, IRELAND


02/21/1880; burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, NY


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905, For the Year 1901, Ser. No. 28, pg. 225  [AotW citation 18227]

2   Conyngham, David Power, The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns, New York: William McSorley & Co., 1867, pp. 305-306, 495, 548  [AotW citation 18228]